Northwestern’s expanding student enrollment led to a housing crunch last year. The college desperately needed a solution for the 2008–09 school year and beyond until a new residence hall can be constructed.
The solution began with a single phone call. The new property owner of a former Holiday Inn in Arden Hills learned of the college’s need and approached Doug Schroeder, CFO and vice president for business at Northwestern, about the possibility of negotiating an arrangement. Due to the city’s development moratorium the owner was seeking a short-term occupant for what would otherwise just be a large, vacant property.
After much prayer, planning and negotiation of a three-year lease, the former hotel 1.8 miles north of campus was approved by the Arden Hills City Council on April 14, 2008, to become a residence hall.
"Northwestern’s enrollment growth and a shortage of student housing is an exciting problem to have," said Northwestern President Alan S. Cureton.
The solution provides a win-win situation. Or, a "four-way win," according to an October 1, 2008 Star Tribune article that reported on the positive arrangement between the city, the property owner, the college and area businesses—which are excited to have the additional pizza-eating, coffee-drinking, grocery-buying customers in their vicinity.
The four-floor Arden Hall, which houses about 280 students, two resident directors and a staff of resident assistants, underwent an aggressive student-friendly redesign by UNW’s facilities staff in just 90 days. Each room accommodates two students (suites hold four) and is equipped with a full bathroom, mini-fridge and a microwave. The renovation includes several common areas, including kitchen and laundry facilities on each floor. Bon Appétit also operates the Arden Café.
Transportation to and from campus is provided through shuttles running continuous routes solely between Arden Hall and the main campus. With the safety of students as a key priority, security staff are on-site during overnight hours as well as an around-the-clock receptionist.
Northwestern’s student development and facilities teams put in countless hours making sure the facilities were ready for students. In early August, Charissa Pederson ’10 was one of the first to move in. She shares her thoughts on living in Arden Hall:
"As an RA at Arden Hall, I have had the unique opportunity to watch God shape this building and this community from its inception until today. Arden Hall has been transformed into a place where the presence of the Holy Spirit is active and transforming.
It is an honor for me to see God’s blessings and faithfulness be poured out upon this building. As a community, we share in the successes and surprises. Community events, activities and dorm worship have brought us together as residents. God is alive and working in here, in our new home away from home."
Written by Jenny Collins '05.